Key Forms of Meditation
Since meditation is such an age old activity practised by different religions and cultures, there has been a huge range of different meditation techniques developed and amassed over the years. To date, many books and articles have been written on this topic.
Below is a list of three key forms of meditation which encompasses majority of meditations today. Many popularized meditation methods such as the Jose Silva method and Sedona method fall under one of these forms. I once came across a meditation book which covered over 100 meditation techniques — but most of them were really just nuance variations of the below:
- Still Meditation or Mindfulness Meditation — Meditating by focusing your attention on an object or process, such as your breathing, a flame, a mantra, a visualization, music, etc. An open focus is maintained. This means even though you are concentrating on something, you keep an open awareness of everything else that is happening around you and inside your mind.
- Moving or Walking Meditation — Gaining awareness through using simple repetitive steps. Some examples are Tai Chi, yoga or even simple walking exercises.
- Concentration Meditation — This is usually practised in religions. It is similar to mindfulness meditation with 2 differences (1) you concentrate on a religious prayer (2) you are required to maintain a closed focus where you close your awareness off from anything other than the prayer.
Common Objective of Meditation
While there can be many schools of thoughts on how to meditate exactly, the basic underlying objective is the same — to raise your consciousness or energetic “vibrations.”
Before You Meditate:
If You Are New To Meditation
If you are new to meditation, I highly recommend you start off with guided meditation — i.e. some form of external guidance, whether from a person or in the form of a pre-recorded audio file, where someone is instructing you. This will make the process easier to follow. Two good resources where you can download free guided meditations are Silva Method and Discover Meditation. I’ve used them both before and they are both well-paced and easy to follow.
Use of Meditation Music
Some people may like to use meditation music while some prefer to just meditate in silence. Meditation music does help to shift into a higher consciousness, for two reasons. First, the music provides a focal point for you to focus on so you do not wander around in your thoughts. Second, meditative music vibrates at a higher level than normal music and this shifts you into a higher vibrational than the one you are normally in. This is why meditative music can also be called ‘consciousness-raising’ music.
Within the pool of meditative music available in the market, there are some which are able to raise consciousness more effectively than others, so you can listen and pick which suits you the most. Some meditative music are sounds of nature, while the guided ones like Paraliminals have narration to induce you into a particular state so you can easily achieve your goals.
I meditate with and without music, depending on my objective. If I would like to be induced into a specific state, I will use music. Sometimes I enjoy just meditating in a free-flow manner where I don’t use any music, immersing in the present moment and environment.
How to Meditate In 5 Simple Steps
The meditation I’m covering here is Still Meditation or Mindfulness Meditation. This is my favorite form of meditation due to its simplicity; it’s possible to do it anywhere, whether at home or when you are commuting.
1. Find your meditation spot
This should be a private spot free from external disturbances. You should feel safe, at peace and comfortable in it. If you have a bedroom to yourself, it is probably the most appropriate inside your bedroom. After you pick the spot, clean the space around it. Remove any pieces of clutter lying around.
My meditative spot is in front of my bedside table — the table itself serves as a meditative altar with crystals, rocks, flowers and candles. Another favorite spot is on my bed.
2. Sit in a comfortable position
There are different recommendations on sitting positions, like the lotus position, sitting on a cushion, and so on. While there are probably good intentions behind each recommendation, mostly I found they just made the process a hassle, making me not want to meditate at all. Now I just meditate in a cross-legged position (on my bed) or sit on my chair. I look forward to it because it’s so comfortable and easy. You don’t have to specifically sit in a special way just to meditate. Find a position that’s most comfortable for you. Sitting on your chair is fine too. In fact, it’s a good option if you often experience numbness in their feet from sitting cross-legged (I do).
Whatever posture you choose, sit upright to facilitate the flow of energy. I do not recommend lying down (i.e. the sleeping posture) to meditate because it’ll usually induce sleep as opposed to letting you remaining in a state of awareness.
3. Clear your mind
Clear your mind. Loosen yourself up. Take a few deep, slow breaths.
4. Simply sit and observe
Then, just sit back and observe the inner dialogue playing in your mind. Let them float by. What are you thinking? What are you feeling? Just observe; don’t engage.
Many people probably think that in meditation, they have to force themselves not to think and block out all their mental thoughts. It is really quite the opposite. You let your mind continue to think, but you don’t engage. You take the role of a passive observer and watch them from the back of your head.
Say for example, if you have a sudden thought that says “I need to buy groceries tomorrow,” observing it means knowing that particular thought is there. If you proceed to react from the thought, such as feeling annoyed that you have to buy groceries, or thinking about what groceries you have to buy or what time to buy them, you are engaging with the thought. Don’t do that. Your desired state in meditation is to observe these thoughts, not engage with them.
One way of detecting when your focus breaks is to count slowly from 1, 2, all the way to 10. Repeat when you reach 10. Each time your focus is deviated, take note of the last number you were reading — this is an indicator of how long you held you focus. Try again, restarting from 1, and try to go beyond the last number this time.
The presence of these thoughts during meditation means they are being cleared. These thoughts have always been present in your mind; you are just not aware since there are so many thoughts screaming for attention inside your head! And now through meditation, they are clearing out, one by one. After repeated meditations, you will gradually reach a new level of mental Zen-like quietness. If you think your mind seems quiet now, try meditating a few days in a row — you’ll notice a new found mental peace.
When I started meditating regularly late last year, I reached a stage where my mind became so peaceful that whenever I had a thought, it would literally “sound” like a “sound.” This liberty from the mental clutter lets me focus even more than before — it is as if all those thoughts were weighing me down in the past, regardless of whether they were positive or negative. It prevented me from fully focusing and living in the present moment.
Meditate for as long as you want, till you feel cleansed, purified, refreshed and good to go. I recommend 30 minutes to start off. If you want to meditate longer, that’s even better. Back when I went for the Vipassana retreat, I underwent almost 100 hours of intense meditation, and processed a lot of latent memories and thoughts I didn’t know were there.
After meditating for a certain period, you will reach a point where your consciousness starts to shift above the physical reality. When that happens, you become detached from your physical self and become an observer to your physical reality. The longer you meditate, the deeper the state you will be in and the higher the consciousness you will enter.
5. Ending Your Meditation
When you are done with your meditation, slowly ease into the physical state. Start off by being present of the physical reality around you. Next, be aware of your physical body. This can take 15~30 seconds, or however long you need to do this step. Then, very slowly, open your eyes. Get attuned to your surroundings. If you open your eyes immediately and try to resume your physical activities, it might be disjointing and jarring.
Instead of resuming your physical activities immediately, you might want to continue sitting in the meditative spot and reflect upon some of the thoughts, feelings or imagery that arose during your meditation. You may also want to just spend a few minutes expressing gratitude toward the things you enjoy in your life. 🙂
Article by Celes.